Women’s Sports Column 27 October – 2 November 2018

bikini-two-piece-swimwear-women-two-parter-54265Welcome to this week’s column.  I realise that, of late, the column seems to have been getting longer and longer.  While this obviously means that there is a lot of women’s sport out there, it also means that it’s taking me a long time to compile.  At the moment it’s taking me a day and half to write and post.  I enjoy it very much and I hope you do too.  But sometimes it’s a bit of a strain.

Towards Christmas and the end of the year, the column may become more sporadic as I have other commitments to fulfil.  I hope you’ll bear with me and read on.

So, here we go.  Stories this week come from football, hockey, cycling, rugby union, volleyball, cricket, gymnastics, sports politics, netball, sailing and tennis.  Plus the only possible “And Finally” and if you haven’t heard about it it’s a corker – if you have, it’s worth another read.

Let’s crack on.

Netball

Fast5 World Series

New Zealand claimed the Fast5 World Series 2018 title in Melbourne, defeating Jamaica in the final by a single point 34-33.  Ironically, Jamaica were the only team to beat New Zealand in the rounds stage.

In the table, Australia finished third, Malawi fourth, England fifth and South Africa sixth.

Defending champions England had a difficult tournament winning only one of the games in the rounds, losing all three games on day one and gaining their one win against Australia on day two, 29-28.

Australia claimed bronze, defeating Malawi in the play-off 38-15.

England finished fifth, defeating South Africa in the fifth/sixth place play-off 35-33.

Tennis

WTA Finals – Singapore

Elina Svitolina took the WTA Finals singles title in Singapore.  She defeated Sloane Stephens in the final 3-6 6-2 6-2.

It was a miracle that Stephens actually made it to the final.  She lost the first eight games of her semi-final against Karolina Pliskova.  She eventually took the match 0-6 6-4 6-1.

The second semi-final also went to three sets, with Svitolina triumphing over Kiki Bertens 7-5 6-7 6-4.

The doubles title went to second seeds Kristina Mladenovic and Timea Babos as they defeated top seeds Barbora Krejčíková and Kateřina Siniaková 6-4 7-5.

WTA Elite Trophy

The second-tier end of season tournament is taking place this week in Zhuhai.

We are currently only at the group stage.  Keep up with events here:

http://www.wtatennis.com/scores

Cycling

UCI Track World Cup

Great Britain won eight medals at the Cup in Milton, Canada last weekend, of which three golds went to women riders.

The Pursuit team comprising Katie Archibald, Eleanor Dickinson, Laura Kenny and Elinor Barker took gold, defeating Italy in the final.  New Zealand beat Germany to take bronze.

Archibald and Barker also took gold in the madison with Denmark in silver and Canada in bronze.

Laura Kenny won gold in the omnium with Lizbeth Salazar of Mexico in silver and Jennifer Valente of USA in bronze.

Australia took gold in the team sprint, defeating Germany in the final.  Gazprom-Rusvelo took bronze, defeating Netherlands in the bronze medal final.

Alexandra Goncharova of Russia won the scratch race.  Olivija Baleisyte of Lithuania finished second and Jennifer Valente of USA was third.  Eleanor Dickinson was twelfth.

Madalyn Godby of the USA won the keirin.  Stephanie Morton of Australia took silver and Martha Bayona Pineda of Colombia the bronze.

The event comprises six stages with Olympic qualifying points at stake.  The next round is in Berlin at the end of November.

Trek-Drops

There was bad news for women’s cycling this week as British team Trek-Drops announced their new sponsorship deal has fallen through and unless they can find backing they will fold.

In a press release the team said:

“The title sponsor in a cycling team invests the largest proportion of budget and the company pulling out leaves us with a large deficit in our budget for 2019,” said the press release.

“This leaves the future of 12 riders and a number of staff, uncertain.”

Although sponsors Trek had announced in July that they would be forming their own team, Trek-Segafredo, it was thought that their sponsorship of Drops would continue.

But this is no longer the case and Drops have turned to crowdfunding to try to secure their 2019 future.

The campaign was launched on Tuesday morning and the team’s crowdfunding page invites contributions from £50 through to £250,000.  It is time-limited to 15 days.  If you can help check out the page: https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/be-part-of-drops-cycling-team#/

Football

England Lionesses

The England squad for the friendlies against Sweden and Austria has been announced.  Neville has included the former USA Under -23 forward Chioma Ubogagu.

Ubogagu was born in London but emigrated to the USA as a child.  She made her professional debut for Arsenal in 2015 and now plays for Brisbane Roar.

The other squad debutantes are Georgia Stanway and Ellie Roebuck.

England squad in full:

Goalkeepers: Mary Earps (Wolfsburg), Ellie Roebuck (Manchester City), Carly Telford (Chelsea)

Defenders: Hannah Blundell (Chelsea), Millie Bright (Chelsea), Lucy Bronze (Lyon), Gabby George (Everton), Alex Greenwood (Manchester United), Steph Houghton (Manchester City), Abbie McManus (Manchester City), Leah Williamson (Arsenal)

Midfielders: Isobel Christiansen (Lyon), Fran Kirby (Chelsea), Jordan Nobbs (Arsenal), Jill Scott (Manchester City), Lucy Staniforth (Birmingham City), Georgia Stanway (Manchester City), Keira Walsh (Manchester City)

Forwards: Rachel Daly (Houston Dash), Toni Duggan (Barcelona), Beth Mead (Arsenal), Nikita Parris (Manchester City), Chioma Ubogagu (Brisbane Roar, on loan from Orlando Pride)

Champions League

After a tense first leg two weeks ago, Chelsea turned on the style in Florence to go through to the Champions League quarter-finals.  The other British side left in the competition, however, Glasgow City, bowed out as they were well beaten by Barcelona.

Fiorentina 0-6 Chelsea
Chelsea win 7-0 on aggregate

A hat-trick from Fran Kirby was the highlight of a fine Chelsea performance that saw them through to the next round.  Chelsea opened the scoring in the 24th minute through Drew Spence.  Fran Kirby scored her first and Chelsea’s second in the 38th and they went in two-up at the break.  In the second-half Kirby got her second through a penalty and Erin Cuthbert scored the fourth.  Kirby grabbed her hat-trick just past the half-hour and Ramona Bachmann bagged the sixth on 67 minutes.  Chelsea had to play the last fifteen minutes with ten players as Millie Bright was sent off for a professional foul, but by then the tie was effectively over.

Glasgow City 0-3 Barcelona
Barcelona win 8-0 on aggregate

The damage had already been done in Barcelona and the chances of Glasgow pulling off a shock win were slim.  But they gave it everything they had from beginning to end.  England striker Toni Duggan bagged two, in the 13th and 51st minute while Alexia Putellas scored in the 48th, between the two Duggan goals, to take Barcelona through 8-0.

Brondby 0-2 LSK
LSK win 3-1 on aggregate

Bayern 3-0 Zurich
Bayern win 5-0 on aggregate

Paris 3-2 Linkoping
Paris win 5-2 on aggregate

Slavia Praha 0-0 Rosengard
Slavia Praha win 3-2 on aggregate

Lyon 9-0 Ajax
Lyon win 13-0 on aggregate

Atletico Madrid 0-6 Wolfsburg
Wolfsburg win 10-0 on aggregate

The quarter-final draw is on 9 November.

FAWSL

Friday 26 October

Manchester City 1-1 Reading
Stanway 33’
Moore 50’

Sunday 28 October

Bristol City 0-4 Arsenal
Nobbs 14’, Miedema 41’ 88’, van de Donk 90’

Brighton & Hove Albion 2-1 Yeovil Town
Brett 13’, Williams 32’
Mason 69’

Everton 1-2 West Ham
Walker 5’
Ross 27’, Lehmann 45’

Chelsea 1-0 Liverpool
Ericsson 27’

So at the top, Arsenal go romping on with six wins from six games and a goal difference of +31.  As Manchester City could only draw, they are now three points behind in second on 15, having played a game more, with Birmingham City in third with 13 points from six games.

At the bottom, there was still no joy for Yeovil and they remain pointless.  Everton are just above them with two and Brighton third from bottom on four points.

FAWC

Sunday 28 October

Leicester City v Manchester Utd
Postponed due to the dreadful events in Leicester on Saturday evening

Millwall Lionesses 0-8 Charlton Athletic
Ejupi 24’ 31’ 44’ 59’, Agg 26’, Gur 45’, Bowers 58’, Graham 87’

Tottenham Hotspur 2-1 Aston Villa
Neville 41’, Dean 82’ (PEN)
Welsh 7’

Crystal Palace 0-1 Sheffield United
Pennock 34’

London Bees 0-1 Durham
Hepple 19’

Tottenham keep up their 100% record in the Championship, with six wins from six games.  Manchester United are second with 13 points from five and Charlton are third on the same points but having played a game more.

At the bottom, Millwall have only one point and Aston Villa are just above them with two.  Both teams have played six games.

Football – off the Pitch

Liverpool Women’s new manager is Vicky Jepson.  Former England goalkeeper, Chris Kirkland, will be assistant coach and goalkeeping coach.

Jepson takes over from Neil Redfearn, who resigned in September.  She has been caretaker manager since then.

Jepson has been with Liverpool since 2009, and has, up to this point, been development squad manager.

There was more good news for Arsenal this week as Joe Montemurro signed a new long-term contract with the club.

The length of the contract has not been disclosed, but the buzz around the club is palpable and this news is another boon for the Gunners.

Hockey

Investec Women’s Hockey League Premier Division

Last weekend’s results looked like this:

Beeston 1-3 Surbiton
Canterbury 0-4 Buckingham
East Grinstead 1-0 Clifton Robinsons
Bowdon 2-2 University of Birmingham
Slough 2-1 Holcombe

Surbiton are now five points ahead at the top with five wins from six games.  Buckingham lie second with 11 points and East Grinstead third on ten.

At the bottom, Bowdon and Canterbury both have three points from six games with Bowdon at the foot on goal difference.

This weekend’s fixtures:

3 November
Clifton Robinsons v Bowdon (1pm, Coombe Dingle P1)
University of Birmingham v Holcombe (1.30pm, Birmingham Uni, P1)
Beeston v Slough (2pm, Nottingham Hockey, P1)
East Grinstead v Canterbury (4pm, East Grinstead HC)
Surbiton v Buckingham (4pm, Surbiton HC Water)

Rugby Union – off the Pitch

Heather Fisher has signed for Gloucester-Hartpury Women on a short-term contract.  Fisher had recently announced she is to take a break from international rugby.

In an interview featured on the excellent website womenseliterugby.com Fisher said,

“I think everyone’s aware that I’ve taken a few months out of the game just to get my physical and mental state back to where it needed to be to get back to international level.

“I came here to Hartpury to do commentary last weekend, and I realised that I missed that team environment. I watched them playing and I thought to myself that I could see myself playing a few games.

“Part of the love for playing rugby is playing with your mates. I know the likes of Kelly Smith and Millie Wood from Sevens, and a few of the Welshies and some girls who used to play for Worcester.

“I watched them last weekend and they play with a bit of dog, they don’t give up, they keep going right until the very end, I like the style they play. I left thinking ‘Could I play?’ You know what, let’s just see what happens.”

Rugby Union – on the Pitch

Last weekend’s Premier 15s results:

27 October
Firwood Waterloo 20-51 Loughborough Lightning
Worcester Valkyries 10-50 Bristol Bears
DMP Sharks 0-38 Wasps

28 October
Richmond 10-40 Harlequins
Saracens 48-24 Gloucester-Hartpury

It’s played seven, won seven for Loughborough Lightning and they sit top with 34 points.  Saracens are second with 30 and Harlequins three further back on 27.

At the bottom, Worcester still only have two points and will not be buoyed by the thought of facing Lightning in Loughborough on Saturday.  Just above them are Firwood Waterloo with five points from seven games.

This weekend’s fixtures:

3 November
Loughborough Lightning v Worcester Valkyries (12pm Loughborough Uni)
Gloucester-Hartpury v Richmond (2pm)
Firwood Waterloo v DMP Sharks (2pm, Firwood Waterloo RFC)
Bristol Bears v Saracens (2.30pm, Shaftsbury Park)

4 November
Harlequins v Wasps (4.30pm, The Stoop)

Volleyball

Last week’s Women’s Super League results:

 27 October
London Orcas 3-0 Sheffield Hallam (25-24, 25-18, 25-23)
Durham Palatinates 3-0 Polonia SideOut London (25-14, 25-12, 25-19)
Birmingham Volleyball Club1 1-3 TeamBU Wessex (25-23, 25-17, 24-26, 25-19)

 28 October
Bristol VC1 0-3 Tendring VC Ladies (25-16, 25-12, 25-17)

Durham have won three from three and are top with nine points.  London Orcas are second on eight.

At the bottom Polonia and Birmingham have yet to register a point, Polonia from three games and Birmingham from two.

Sports Politics

Sports Minister Tracey Crouch has resigned over the delay to introducing a cut in the maximum stakes for fixed-odds betting machines from £100 to £2.

In Monday’s budget Chancellor Philip Hammond said the cut would now be enforced in October 2019.

Crouch said that pushing back the date was “unjustifiable” and has resigned.

I may not be of Crouch’s political colours, but she has been a good Sports Minister and it has been excellent to have a woman in the role.  I also admire her stand over this issue.  I discussed the stance of Scotland’s women’s football a few weeks ago when they stated they were not going to accept sponsorship or advertising from betting sites.  It’s a plague in this country.  But while we have those willing to stick to their principles let’s hope that eventually the constant bombardment that we receive when watching (or listening to) sport may at some point have had its day.

Gymnastics –World Championships

Simone Biles does it again.  She won her fourth all-around title at the world Championships in Doha.

Not only did she do this, but she did it falling twice in the process and while suffering with a kidney stone.

Biles fluffed her landing in the vault and fell from the beam but still took the title with 57.491 points, 1.693 points ahead of Mai Mukarami of Japan, who took silver.  Morgan Hurd of the USA took the bronze.

Britain’s Ellie Downie finished 11th after a long lay-off with an ankle injury.

The individual apparatus finals take place this weekend.

Sunday Times Women’s Sportswoman of the Year

Last night (Thursday 2 November) saw the SWOTY awards.

Dina Asher-Smith won the main award.  Lizzy Yarnold was second and Katie Archibald, third.  Also nominated were Georgia Hall, Rachel Atherton and Vicky Holland.

The England Roses Commonwealth Games winning team won Team of the Year.

Georgia Hall, winner of this year’s Women’s British Open was named Young Sportswoman of the Year.

Menna Fitzpatrick (thanks Sunday Times for tweeting that “Mina” Fitzpatrick” had won), along with guide Jen Kehoe won the Disability Sportswoman of the Year award.

Jennie Price, the outgoing Chief Executive of Sport England, was given the Lifetime Achievement award.

Triathlete Trish Deykin won the Helen Rollason Award for Inspiration and Alex Paske the Grassroots Award.  Paske, from Stamford in Lincolnshire, founded MIntridge Events when she was just 24.  It aims to increase young people’s sports participation, enhance their life skills and promote their knowledge of health and wellbeing.

Cricket

Don’t forget the Women’s T20 World Cup begins next Friday, 9 November.  You can follow it on Sky Sports and via BBC Radio Test Match Special.  I’m away next week, but there will be plenty of news and results in a fortnight.

And Finally,

It had to be, didn’t it?  In a way I hope you’ve all seen this already, but if you haven’t, it’s possibly the classic to end all classics as regards sexism in sport, why so many women give up on sport so early and why they are reluctant to return later on.

Many thanks to journalist and campaigner Anna Kessel (@Anna_Kessel) for tweeting about this and, of course, to Simone Webb (@SimoneWebbUCL), who had to bring it to Swim England’s attention in the first place.

Hats off to Swim England – you really are the “best”.

Swim England, the governing body for swimming in England, has a campaign to get people swimming.  It’s called “Just Swim”.  So far, so good.  However, when Simone Webb was considering taking up swimming after a long period away from the sport, when she consulted “Just Swim”, she found that some of the advice was, how shall we put it?  Less than helpful, perhaps?

In a piece entitled “Guide to Choosing Swimwear for Women” she found the following juicy morsels;

“If your body is short in proportion to your legs, you will want a swimsuit that gives the impression of litheness”

“A pear shape has often been the plague of women, but it no longer needs to be so.”

“…try pairing an eye-catching bikini or tankini top with subdued bottoms in a dark colour.  This type of swimsuit will draw attention toward your more appealing characteristics.”

“To add curves and subtle cleavage to a small bust, look for a bikini top with triangle-shaped cups and a tie-front.”

“Boyish body.  Try push-up cups and twisted bandeaux to enhance your cleavage.”

Perhaps all this means if I get it right I’ll be able to swim like Becky Adlington?  Perhaps not.

Unfortunately, by the time I’d got there the piece had been taken down – I would have loved to have read it in full.  Swim England’s response was somewhat bizarre; apparently the piece had been there since 2010, but they were unaware of it.  They have since apologised.

And, and finally,

Congratulations to one of my favourite contacts in sailing, Dee Caffari, for being shortlisted for the Pro Sailor of the Year award in the British Yachting Awards 2018.  It’s a formidable shortlist as Dee is up against Carolijn Brouwer, Charlie Crumbly, Phil Sharp, Sophie Weguelin & Sophie Ainsworth and Wendy Tuck (5 women in the shortlist!).  If sailing’s your thing and you would like to vote check it out here https://www.britishyachtingawards.com/pro-sailor-of-the-year/

I’m away next week, but I’ll be back in a fortnight, by which time the World T20 will be in full swing.  Can anybody stop the Southern Stars?

Women’s Sports Column 11-17 August 2018

IMG-20160720-00581Welcome to this week’s column.  There’s a lot of positive news this week, which makes a change. Maybe it’s because I’ve been weaning myself off the comments sections of any piece on the BBC website (or even a Tweet) that pertains to women’s sport.  Long may it last.

Stories this week include a round-up of the last few days of the European Championships, cricket, football, hockey, tennis and netball.

Hockey

Danny Kerry has left his role as head coach of the GB and England women’s hockey teams to take up a similar post with the men’s.

He had been in the role for 13 years.

There has been no indication as to who will take over from him.

European Championships

The remaining days of the European Championships produced some excellent performances from Team GB.

Gold
Dina Asher-Smith in the 200m and was part of the 4x100m team that also won gold with Asha Philip, Imani Lansiquot and Bianca Williams.
Grace Reid in the 3m springboard diving.
Laura Muir 1,500m

Silver
Alicia Blagg in the 3m springboard diving.
Michele Thomson, Connor Syme, Liam Johnston and Meghan Maclaren  in the mixed team golf competition.
Katarina Johnson-Thompson in the heptathlon
Eilish McColgan 5,000m

Bronze
Zoey Clark, Anyika Onuora, Amy Allcock and Eilidh Doyle in the 4 x 400m relay
Shara Proctor won bronze in the long jump.
Meghan Beesley in the 400m hurdles.
Laura Weightman in the 1,500m

Tennis

Rogers Cup

Last weekend saw number one seed Simona Halep win the final of the Rogers Cup.  She defeated third seed Sloane Stephens in three sets, 7-6 3-6 6-4.

Britain’s Jo Konta reached the third round.  She had a good win over French Open champions Jelena Ostapenko in the first round, 6-7 6-1 6-2.  In the second round she beat Viktoria Azarenka 6-3 6-1, but lost in the third round to fifth seed Elina Svitolina 6-3 6-4.

Cincinnati Masters

This week it is the Cincinnati Masters and they have been suffering with the weather.  There are still three games to complete in the third round.  Only two quarter-final line-ups have been decided so far: Petra Kvitova (8) v Elise Mertens (15) and Madison Keys (13) v  Aryna Sabalenka.

Jo Konta went out in the first round to Sabalenka 4-6 6-3 6-4.

Football

Under-20 World Cup

England have finished top of Group B as they beat Mexico 6-1 in their last group game.

The Young Lionesses were behind at half-time through a Jacqueline Ovalle goal.  But after the break Alessia Russo drew them level and Chloe Kelly scored the second to take them ahead.

Georgia Stanway got the third and then Lauren Hemp bagged a hat-trick to make it a convincing win.

England now face the Netherlands in the quarter-finals on 17 August.

Two quarter-finals have already taken place:

Spain 2-1 Nigeria
Aitana (13)
Patri 45+2

France 1-0 Korea DPR
Delabre (29 pen)

The semi-finals are on 20 August.  Spain play against France and the winner of the Netherlands/England match play the winner of the fourth semi between Germany and Japan.

The final is on Friday 24 August.  There is TV coverage on Eurosport.

Manchester United

BT sport has revealed that it will show Manchester United Women’s first match, against Liverpool in the Continental Cup group game, live at 2pm on Sunday 19 August.

They will be covering WSL, FA and Continental Cups this season.

First fixtures:
Sunday 19 August: Liverpool v Manchester United (Conti Cup) – BT Sport 2 from 2pm
Sunday 9 September: Chelsea v Manchester City (WSL) – BT Sport 3 from 2pm
Sunday 23 September: Brighton & Hove Albion v Liverpool (WSL) – BT Sport 1 from 12.15pm
Sunday 14 October: Chelsea v Arsenal (WSL) – BT Sport 1 from 2pm

Signings

Kirsty Linnett has signed for Liverpool, having been released by Reading at the end of her contract.
Liverpool have also signed goalkeeper Fran Kitching from Sheffield United.
Manchester City have signed Canadian international forward Janine Beckie on a one-year contract.
Birmingham City have signed full-back Harriet Scott from Reading on a one-year contract.
Defender Megan Alexander has moved from Millwall to Yeovil.
Bristol City have also been busy signing striker Ella Rutherford from Millwall and defender Poppy Pattinson from Manchester City this week.

Champions League

Glasgow City played their second Champions League group game this week, beating FC Martve of Georgia 7-0.

Abbi Grant scored two in the first-half, Kirsty Howat bagged a hat-trick and the other goals came from Jenna Clark and Jo Love.

City are now joint second in the group and play their last game against Polish side Gornik Leczna on Monday.  If they win that game by two goals they will top the group and go into the last 32.

In the other game in the group Gornik Leczna beat Anderlecht.

Netball – on the court

World Cup Regional Qualifiers – Africa

Six teams are vying for two places at next year’s World Cup at the African regional qualifier in Lusaka, Zambia.   The teams taking part are Botswana, Kenya, Namibia, Uganda, Zambia and Zimbabwe.

All of the teams have played three matches now and Uganda are top with three wins from three.  Zimbabwe lie second on the same points but with an inferior goal average.  Zambia lie third on four points.

Malawi have already qualified for the World Cup by right.

The tournament ends on 18 August.  More news next week.

Netball – off the court

Great news for the Vitality Super League – Serena Guthrie will be back to play in UK for the 2019 season.

The England centre who was, in my opinion, the outstanding England player of the Commonwealth Games in April, has been playing Super Netball in Australia for Giants since 2017.

Guthrie has given no indication as to which club she will join, although I’m sure many will be vying to sign her up.

Cricket
Kia Super League

We already know two out of the three teams that have made it to finals day at Hove on 27 August.  Western Storm and Loughborough Lightning have been battling it out for top spot all tournament and it’s not over yet!  Lightning scored a famous victory against the Storm this week which took them back to the top of the table, but there’s still time for it all to change.  The race is still on for third, although Southern Vipers, usually a safe bet to reach finals day, are out of it.

Here’s what has happened so far this week:

11 August
Lancashire Thunder 136/7 (20 overs)
Loughborough Lightning 137/1 (14.3 overs)
Lightning won by 9 wickets with 33 balls remaining

Amy Satterthwaite top-scored for the Thunder with 47 from 41 balls with back-up Georgia Boyce (38 from 33) and Nicole Bolton (19 from 20).   But Loughborough’s bowling was disciplined as they restricted the Thunder to under 140.  Sophie Devine took 2/22 from her four and Kirstie Gordon 2/29 off her four.

Loughborough knocked off the total with over five overs to spare as Lancashire took only one wicket.  Amy Jones, having a great tournament, scored 66 from 39, Rachael Haynes 40 from 37 and Sophie Devine, unluckily run out, scored 22 from 12.

Southern Vipers 62/2 (8.5 overs)
Western Storm (did not bat)

Match abandoned.

12 August
Surrey Stars 66 all out (16.4 of 20 overs)
Yorkshire Diamonds 67/1 (9.3 overs)
Diamonds won by 9 wickets with 63 balls remaining

Disaster for the Stars as they were skittled by Yorkshire for just 66 at York.  Only Lizelle Lee (13) and Marizanne Kapp (13) got into double figures.

Beth Langston took 3/14 off 3.4 overs.

In response Lauren Winfield’s was the only wicket taken as she was caught by Sophia Dunkley off the bowling of Laura Marsh for 14 but by then the Diamonds already had 55 on the board.  Beth Mooney top-scored with 44 off 30 as Yorkshire won easily.

14 August
Southern Vipers 147/9 (20 overs)
Surrey Stars 148/6 (19.3 overs)
Stars won by 4 wickets with 3 balls remaining

Just two days after their thrashing at the hands of Yorkshire, the Stars made a great return to form, beating the Vipers and thus ending the Vipers’ chances of qualifying for finals day.

Without Suzie Bates the Vipers’ scorecard would have been grim reading.  The New Zealander scored 82 from 57 balls.  The next best score was from Danni Wyatt who scored 15.

Best bowling figures came from Nat Sciver, who took 4/32 off her four overs.

It was a competitive target, though.  Surrey tackled it steadily and all contributed.  Sciver top-scored with 46 from 33 and as wickets fell as they headed towards the target, it was a little too close for comfort.  The Stars finally closed it out with three balls to spare.

Lancashire Thunder 154/9 (20 overs)
Yorkshire Diamonds 145/8 (20 overs)
Thunder won by 9 runs

Harmanpreet Kaur stole the show at Blackpool as she struck 74 from 44 balls to take the Thunder to a good total of 154.  Nicole Bolton also scored 46.

The Diamonds battled valiantly, ultimately just falling short.  Winfield fell for just two at the top of the order, but Beth Mooney and Thea Brookes then put on a partnership of 47 before Brookes fell for 22.  Down the order Brunt top-scored with 44 and Alice Davidson-Richards 33, but Yorkshire lost wickets at crucial stages.  Kate Cross effected two run outs and Yorkshire ran out of steam.

15 August
Western Storm 124/6 (20 overs)
Loughborough Lightning 125/1 (12.3 overs)
Lightning won by 9 wickets with 45 balls remaining

A brilliant all-round performance saw the Lightning defeat the Storm and return to the top of the table.

Kirstie Gordon took 3/19 off her four overs and Sophie Devine 2/27.  Even Smriti Mandhana couldn’t quite get it going, scoring 29 from 27 balls until she fell victim to Gordon, caught by Ellyse Villani.

It never looked to be a big enough total.  And so it proved.  Loughborough knocked it off with the minimum of fuss.  Haynes scored 66 not out from 40, Sophie Devine 38 from 30 and Amy Jones saw the end with 6 not out from 6.

Storm had no answer to the Lightning’s performance.  The question is, can Loughborough replicate this on finals day?

It’s safe to say that this season’s tournament has been the best so far by a distance.  I think it was obvious to most of us that a five-game competition was never going to be long enough.  The advent of away and home ties has been brilliant and has produced cricket of a high standard with overseas stars, home favourites and up-and-coming youngsters all having the chance to shine.

If you’re in the Hove vicinity on Bank Holiday Monday, get down there!!

And Finally,

Those of you who have been following the column for a while will remember that I used to have a fairly regular sailing update from Abby Ehler from the Magenta Project, an organisation committed to “accelerate women to the top of sailing”.  Whilst I don’t have the regular updates anymore, I do keep up with what the team at Magenta is doing and I’m thrilled to say they have just announced a new mentoring programme to:

“link up aspiring female sailors with mentors across the industry for the purpose of supporting their sailing development. The mentors will work with the mentees to help plan their sporting development, overcome hurdles, find industry sponsors and inspire them to succeed at the highest level possible.”

All the information on how to apply to be mentored is on the website, and if you’re at all interested I would urge you to take a look.

https://themagentaproject.org/mentoring/

I will hopefully be revisiting this subject in a few weeks to see how it’s going and what the response has been.

That’s all for this week – short and sweet for a change!  More news and views next week. 

Women’s Sports Column 4-10 August 2018

golfWelcome to this week’s column.  What a week!  So much going on I don’t know where to start.  One thing’s for sure, there’s plenty to catch up with stories from football, golf, hockey, rugby union, rugby league, athletics, cycling, motor racing, swimming, gymnastics, cricket and probably many other things that I’ve forgotten!

So let’s crack on!

Golf – British Open

Top of the pile this week is the Georgia Hall’s terrific triumph in the Women’s British Open at Lytham at the weekend.

It was a great tournament, good coverage on Sky, has its house in order as regards sponsorship and had brilliant crowds on all four days.  Am I allowed to say FA take note?

Anyway, Hall kept her cool to take the title by two shots on -17 from Pornanong Phatlum of Thailand in second and Ryu So-yeon of Korea a further two back in third.

Phatlum had an overnight lead of one shot, but Hall picked up five as Phatlum faltered in the closing stages, only going into the lead on the 16th after she holed a 20-foot putt to make birdie.

It was a stunning achievement for the 22-year old, who showed a maturity beyond her years.  Her cool approach will be a great asset in next year’s Solheim Cup.

Hockey – World Cup

Summary: the Irish took the tournament by storm, while a disappointing England side could only finish sixth.  There were many, many shocks, but right from the off no-one was beating the Netherlands!

Netherlands 6-0 Ireland

The bald facts will be there in the history books – the Dutch were by far the best team in the tournament, but it doesn’t tell the whole story.

But back to the facts: Ireland went one down after seven minutes through (my) player of the tournament Lidewij Welton.  But it was the only score in the first quarter.

They scored a second on 19 minutes when Kelly Jonker put away a rebound originally kicked away by Irish goalkeeper Ayeisha McFerran.  Before the half was over, Ireland were four-down as first Kitty van Male and then Malou Pheninckx beat the Irish defences.

At the start of the third quarter Marloes Keetels made it five and in the 34th minute Caia van Maasakker scored a sixth.

The Dutch then took their foot off the gas, but the Irish also showed great heart to keep them out and build up their own period of pressure.  They couldn’t quite force the ball over the line, but they gave it everything in the attempt.

And, we should remember they beat the United States and India in their pool matches, then India again in the quarter-final and Spain in the semi, all of whom were higher in the world rankings.

With their second place finish, Ireland move from 16th to 9th in the world.

One immediate result, apart from a truly stunning homecoming reception for the team in Dublin – if you haven’t seen it, check it out here: https://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/hockey/45088396 is that the Irish Minister for Sport, Shane Ross, has indicated that hockey will receive better funding in the run up to the 2022 Olympics.

Spain finished third as they defeated Australia 3-1 in the bronze medal match.  Goals from Maria Lopez, Berta Bonastre and Alicia Magaz won it for the Spanish, with Australia’s score coming from Kathryn Slattery.

Rugby League – Challenge Cup Final

Castleford Tigers 14-20 Leeds Rhinos

The Tigers were well ahead 14-6 at half-time with tries from Katie Hepworth and Tara Stanley.

Sophie Nuttall got one back for Leeds before the break, but then Georgia Roche crossed again to stretch the lead.

On the resumption Leeds scored immediately through Caitlin Beevers.

Aimee Stavely put the Rhinos ahead and Lois Forsell scored again to ensure the victory for Leeds.

And it was great to see it on the TV!

Earlier on in the afternoon Bradford Bulls won the Women’s Shield 44-16 over Stanningley.  The Bulls’ tries came from Leah Jones, Shona Hoyle, Reagan Walker (2), Becky Conlon, Amy Hardcastle (2) and Jess Courtman.

Rugby Union

There is good news and a whole bundle of frustration from rugby union this week.  Next season’s fixtures for the Premier 15s have been announced although you have to search for them a bit.

Check it out here: https://www.premier15s.com/news/tyrrells-premier-15s-release-2018-19-fixtures/, as have those for Championship North and South https://www.englandrugby.com/fixtures-and-results/competitions/womens-competitions/#/fixtures.

On the other hand, there has been criticism levelled at the RFU over their handling of the women’s national side.  If you remember, after the World Cup, the 15s contracts were not renewed as they wanted to concentrate on sevens.

It is safe to say that the England Sevens side has not kicked on as was hoped and yet, there is no sign of 15s contracts.  Steve Brown, Chief Executive of the RFU, has said that their “ambition” is to award full-time contracts in both 15s and sevens.

But where are they?  Former England captain Catherine Spencer has been quoted as saying the RFU has shown “..a lack of effective leadership and a lack of direction.”

Is it a coincidence that this week has seen the retirement of England’s most-capped player Rochelle (Rocky) Clark from England duty?

The 37-year old won 137 caps for England in her 15-year international career and will continue to play domestically for Wasps.

This latest retirement comes in the wake of Izzy Noel- Smith’s in April and Danielle Waterman’s in May.

The last thing we need is another FA.  We don’t need another governing body that can talk a good game and then not follow through.  Let’s hope the RFU gets its house in order before too long.

Motor Sport

Another young British star in the making is Jamie Chadwick.  Last weekend at Brands Hatch she became the first woman to win a British Formula 3 race.

She won from fourth position on the grid, moving up to second and staying just behind leader Pavan Ravishankar of Singapore until Ravishankar was hit with a 10-second penalty for a jump start and Chadwick took the win.

European Championships

The multi-sports European Championships are happening as we speak.  I can’t do justice to all of the performances, so apologies if I’ve missed your favourites.   Here are some of the highlights so far:

Rowing

It was a disappointing event for Team GB with only one medal for the women.  This came in the women’s eight which finished in silver medal position.  There were only three boats in the race, however, so they were guaranteed a medal.

The women’s quadruple sculls were fourth in their final as were the women’s four.  The pair of Hattie Taylor and Rowan McKellar finished fifth in their final.

Athletics

Dina Asher-Smith’s fabulous form continued as she stormed to 100m gold in 10.85 seconds, yet another British record.   Gina Luckenkemper finished in silver and Dafne Schippers took bronze.

Holly Bradshaw won bronze in the pole vault – her first major outdoor medal.

Cycling

Laura Kenny came back to the track and won two gold medals.  The first was in the team pursuit alongside teammates Katie Archibald, Elinor Barker and Neah Evans and they beat Italy in the final.

Kenny also won the elimination race ahead of Anna Knauer of Germany and Evgenia Augustinas on Russia.

Katie Archibald took three medals in total – the first as part of the pursuit team, but then she also won silver in the individual pursuit, losing to German Lisa Brennauer in the final and silver also in the omnium behind world champion Kirsten Wild of the Netherlands.

Emily Kay took silver in the 10km scratch race.

Swimming

There were plenty of medals won by Team GB in the swimming.

Hannah Miley took the first, a bronze, in the 400m individual medley behind Fantine Lesaffre of France who took gold and Ilaria Cusinato of Italy who took silver.  Britain’s Aimee Willmott finished fourth.

Holly Hibbott won a bronze in the 400m freestyle as did Molly Renshaw in the women’s 200m breaststroke.

Imogen Clark won silver in the 50m breaststroke, behind Yuliya Efimova of Russia and ahead of Arianna Castiglioni of Italy.

Alys Thomas won bronze in the 200m butterfly.

Wales’ Georgia Davies won a gold in the 50m and silver in the 100m backstroke.

Team GB was particularly strong in the relays:

She was also part of the women’s 4 x 200m freestyle relay team alongside Freya Anderson, Eleanor Faulkner and Kathryn Greenslade that took gold.

There was a bronze for the women’s 4 x 100m team comprising Georgia Davies, Siobhan Marie O’Connor, Alys Thomas and Freya Anderson.

The 4 x 100m mixed medley relay team won gold.  The team comprised Adam Peaty, Freya Anderson, James Guy and Georgia Davies.

The 4 x 200m mixed freestyle team of Stephen Milne, Craig McLean, Kathryn Greenslade and Freya Anderson  took bronze.

Diving

Grace Reid and Ross Haslam won silver in the mixed synchronised 3m springboard.

Eden Cheng and Lois Toulson took gold in the 10m synchronised event.

Gymnastics

Team GB missed out on a medal in the team event, finishing fourth.  The event was won by Russia with France in silver and the Netherlands in bronze.

Triathlon

Jess Learmonth took silver in the triathlon.  Nicola Spirig won the title with Cassandre Beaugrand of France taking bronze.

There’s still plenty to come with more athletics, BMX and golf this weekend.

Other Athletics News

British javelin thrower Joanna Blair has been banned from the sport for four years.

She tested positive for anabolic steroids in June last year.  Her provisional suspension has now been upheld and she will be ineligible to compete until July 2021.

Blair maintains she unintentionally took the banned substance metandienone in a contaminated creatine supplement that she bought online.

But UK Anti-Doping (UKad) rejected this argument, saying she had not proved that she had not taken the drug intentionally.

Football – Signings

In a surprise move this week Jamie Sherwood has been appointed as Director of Football at Yeovil Town.  He stood down as manager in the summer and was replaced by Lee Burch, but has now rejoined to, in the club’s words, “provide the board with a link to the core work being undertaken by the management team”.

Yeovil have also re-signed striker Annie Heatherson.

Brighton & Hove Albion have signed midfielder Emily Simpkins from Doncaster Rovers Belles.

West Ham have been at it again, signing Swiss forward Alisha Lehmann from BSC Young Boys Frauen.

Not a signing as such, but an excellent and significant piece of news is that Jayne Ludlow has signed a four-year contract extension to her role as manager of the Wales national side.

Under 20s World Cup

England started their World Cup campaign with a 3-1 win over North Korea on Sunday.

Alessia Russo opened the scoring with Georgia Stanway bagging the second on the hour.

Ja Un-Yong got one back for North Korea in the second-half, but England sealed the win two minutes later as Russo got her second.

On Wednesday they played their second game against Brazil and drew 1-1.  England were ahead for much of the game after Georgia Stanway scored from the penalty spot in the 11th minute.  They conceded the equaliser in the last minute when Ariadina fired in to take a share of the points.

England’s last group game is against Mexico on Sunday 12 August.

The top two teams in the group go through to the quarter-finals.

Champions League Qualifying

Glasgow City 1-2 Anderlecht

Glasgow lost their first Champions League Group Three match in Edinburgh on Tuesday.  The away side took the lead through Ella Van Kerkhoven.  A few minutes later Leanne Ross missed a penalty, hitting the post with her spot-kick.  Elke Van Gorp scored a second for Anderlecht, before Lara Invanusa pulled one back for Glasgow.

Cardiff Met UFC 2-3 Olimpia Cluj

The Welsh Premier League champions fared no better in their first game in Group six as they too lost at home.

Cardiff opened the scoring through Naomi Clipston, but then Cluj had a period of pressure before Mara Batea equalised.

In the second-half, Cristina Carp scored for Cluj, Erin Murray equalised for Cardiff and Phoenetia Browne got a third for Cluj, all in the space of three minutes.  The Browne goal turned out to be the winner.

Football

Another week, another story of the FA’s lack of leadership.  I’m coming to the conclusion that the FA wants to offload the “burden” of the WSL as soon as possible.

This week the FA has said it would be “open to Premier League takeover” of the WSL.  But is it, as it stands, an attractive enough proposition for the Premier League to take an interest?

Obviously the game has grown under the FA, but last season some attendances stagnated or even went down.  It has been criticised for its constant revamping of the league structure and also last season’s fixture list which included large gaps followed by a crush of games.  The FA can’t even find a main sponsor for this year’s league.  So why would the Premier League take over?

Reaction from clubs to the idea has been mixed.  There is a belief from some that the league is not developed enough for the Premier League to take over, but those such as Chelsea manager Emma Hayes is in favour – back in January 2018 she said she thought it was a good idea as it would probably mean more money into the game.

If I were the Premier League, looking at its own package and how it brings in millions of pounds of revenue, at this moment I would run a mile.  I’d be telling the FA to come back when they’ve stopped messing with the product and everyone is settled and satisfied with the situation.

This one’s going to run and run.

Cricket

4 August
Southern Vipers 172/6
Loughborough Lightning 174/7 (19.4 overs)
Lightning won by 3 wickets with 2 balls remaining

Although Suzie Bates scored only nine and Tammy Beaumont a single, Sarah McGlashan scored 55, Danni Wyatt 36, Arran Brindle 26 and Mignon du Preez 24 to put together a sizeable total of 172 for the Vipers.

In response, Sophie Devine was out early for seven, but Rachael Haynes anchored the innings scoring 53 from 34 balls.  Amy Jones chipped in with 31 but it was Elyse Villani’s 61 not out from 38 balls that saw Lightning home as the lower order began to wobble.

Eventually Loughborough won the game with two balls to spare.

5 August
Yorkshire Diamonds 172/5
Western Storm 174/3 (19.2 overs)
Storm won by 7 wickets with 4 balls remaining

Diamonds batted first and posted a decent score.  Beth Mooney top scored with 69 from 42 balls, while Lauren Winfield fell two short of her half-century.

In response, Smriti Mandhana continued her good form, making 56 from 36 balls. She was ably supported by Heather Knight who scored 45 and Rachel Priest with 37 and the Storm got home with four balls to spare.

7 August
Surrey Stars 167/8
Lancashire Thunder 112 all out (19.2 overs)
Stars won by 55 runs

An excellent and much needed win for the Stars as they skittled the Thunder for just 112.

Bryony Smith fell for just 10, but Lizelle Lee finally stepped up to show the crowd what she was made of and the partnership of 94 between Lee and Sarah Taylor really got the Stars going.  The lower order did not contribute much to the score, but it was a decent total to defend.

The Thunder made a good start in response with a 55 run stand between openers Nicole Bolton and Eve Jones.  After Bolton was dismissed by Dane van Niekerk for 24, there was then a disaster for Thunder as Harmanpreet Kaur was run out without scoring.  This precipitated a collapse with only Amy Satterthwaite (21) providing any resistance.  Van Niekerk took 3/20 from her four overs and Bryony Smith 2/9 from two.

8 August
Southern Vipers 159/7
Yorkshire Diamonds 143 all out (19.5 overs)
Vipers won by 16 runs

Vipers ended their losing streak with a win at Southampton.  Tammy Beaumont was back from sitting out through concussion and top-scored with 64.  Katie Levick was the pick of the bowlers for the Diamonds, taking 3/35 from her four overs.

It was the same old story for Diamonds though as they started relatively well but fell away down the order.  Thea Brookes top-scored with 45 from 36 balls, but wickets kept falling and the last five batters scored only eight between them.  Suzie Bates did much of the damage, taking 4/26 off 3.5 overs and Amelia Kerr chipped in with 2/22 off four.

9 August
Loughborough 100/7 (match reduced to 13 overs)
Surrey Stars 106/3 (11.2/13 overs)
Stars won by 7 wickets with 10 balls remaining

Loughborough’s winning run came spectacularly to an end at Guildford as Stars cruised to the win.  Lightning made a fair 100 off 13 overs with Georgia Elwiss top scoring on 26.  They lost three wickets for 10 runs towards the end which prevented them posting a really good total.

But the Stars meant business.  Lizelle Lee starred, as it were, for the second game in a row, with 48 from 28 balls.  She was backed up by Bryony Smith who made 31 as Lightning struggled to take wickets.

9 August
Western Storm 185/4 (20 overs)
Lancashire Thunder 109 all out (18.2 overs)
Storm won by 76 runs

Not close.  Storm were ruthless in all departments as they crushed the Thunder at Taunton.  Priest went cheaply for just four, Mandhana was at it again with 49 from 25 balls and England captain Knight top-scoring with 76 from 50.  Stafanie Taylor hit 51 after the fall of Mandhana as they posted an excellent 185.

In response the Bolton scored a good 21, but fellow opener Eve Jones made only one, Amy Satterthwaite four and Harmanpreet Kaur eight before EllieThrelkeld came in to try to steady the ship.  It was a vain hope though – her 33 was easily the Thunder’s top score as the rest of the wickets fell around her.

We’re now just over half way through with all teams having played seven games.  Lightning’s loss at Surrey has seen them replaced at the top of the table by Western Storm.  It looks to be between Surrey Stars and Lancashire Thunder for the third place at finals day although there is still all to play for.

It may be significant that Loughborough Lightning’s two losses have been in reduced-overs matches.  With the weather becoming less predictable as the season progresses, will this cause Loughborough some problems?

More news and views next week. 

Women’s Sports Column 9-15 June 2018

Swell2Welcome to this week’s column.  Something a bit different on offer this week as I’ve just read a really excellent book on women’s swimming; Swell by Jenny Landreth and I wanted to share my view of it with you.

But before I get on to that, it would be remiss of me if I didn’t get the usual stuff in, so this week sees stories from football, cricket, cycling, tennis, netball, athletics and rugby league.

Let’s crack on.

 Cricket

No prizes for guessing the performance of the week – 17-year old Amelia Kerr made history this week when she broke Belinda Clark’s record for an ODI innings of 229, scored in 1997, when she scored 232 not out against Ireland in Dublin on Wednesday.   But she didn’t leave it there – she also took 5/17 in her seven over spell.    Her 232 came from 145 balls and included 31 fours and two sixes, the second of which, on the last ball of the innings, took her to the record.  She also became the youngest double-centurion (male or female) across all cricket formats.

In fact, Ireland have been given a bit of a battering in their series against New Zealand and the White Ferns are getting into some serious form before they face England later in the summer.  In the only T20 they won by 10 wickets and in the ODIs New Zealand have won by 346, 306 and 305 runs.

England v South Africa

Well it’s been a “game of two halves” so far in this three-ODI series.  Which England team will turn up on Friday?  Who knows?  But it’s clear that England must be more consistent if they are to dominate their opponents this summer, while South Africa will take great heart at their own progress.

First ODI – Worcester
9 June

England 189/9 (50 overs)
South Africa 193/3 (45.3 overs)
South Africa win by 7 wickets with 27 balls remaining

England won the toss and elected to bat.  And what a dismal performance it was.  Amy Jones fell first for 19, but Beaumont, Taylor and Knight made only 12 between them as they slumped to 39/4.

Only Katherine Brunt, you can imagine her chuntering about having to do it all on her own, showed any fight, scoring 72 not out from 98 balls as wickets fell around her.

It was also great bowling from South Africa; Shabnim Ismail took 3/25 from 10 overs and Ayabonga Khaka 3/42 from her 10.

England’s bowlers had as poor a day as their batters.  Opener Lizelle Lee smashed 92 not out from 128 balls, Dane van Niekerk 58 and Mignon du Preez 36 not out as South Africa claimed a comprehensive victory.

Second ODI – Hove
12 June

England 331/6 (50 overs)
South Africa 262/9 (50 overs)
England win by 69 runs

England had obviously been told to up their game at Hove.  And up it they did.  Centuries for Beaumont (101 from 109 balls) and Taylor (118 from 106 balls) saw them post a competitive 331.  Only Nat Sciver failed to contribute, making just six.

But was it enough?  A blistering start from the South African openers took them to 142 off 25 overs when Wolvaardt fell for 32.  Lizelle Lee, meanwhile, was dispatching the ball with ease again and made 117 off 107 balls before she went bowled Georgia Elwiss, caught by Danni Wyatt, an innings that included 13 fours and five sixes.

Chloe Tryon came in further down the order and caused mayhem, scoring 44 off 26 balls.  But after she was out, again caught by Wyatt off the bowling of Ecclestone, South Africa couldn’t maintain the momentum and fell well short.

One-all in the series and all to play for today (Friday 15 June).

Tennis – on the Court
French Open

World number one Simona Halep broke her Grand Slam duck at the weekend as she defeated Sloane Stephens of the US, 3-6 6-4 6-1.

Stephens made a storming start, looking a class above Halep, hitting winner after winner as Halep couldn’t keep up and she took the first set 6-3.

But Halep found a reserve of strength in the second, taking four games in a row after going a break down.  Although Stephens tried hard to strike back, Halep took the set 6-4.

The third ended up quite one-sided as Halep took control and Stephens tired.  She broke the American twice to take a 4-0 lead.  There was no coming back for Stephens and Halep took the match with her first match point.

It was a fitting final between two well-matched players, even though Stephens was somewhat of a surprise finalist.  As a result of this run Stephens will rise to fourth in the world rankings.

 Nottingham Open

 On to the glories of the all too brief grass season.

We’re at the quarter-final stage of the Nottingham tournament, but there are a couple of earlier round results that bear mentioning.

In the round of 16 we had the match-up many wanted to see – Johanna Konta v Heather Watson.  In the end the tie went to the fourth seed, Konta, 6-4 7-6 and she now plays the unseeded Dalila Jakupovic in the quarters.

The standout British performance, though, came from Katie Boulter.  She is through to her first WTA quarter-final after she defeated Sam Stosur of Australia 7-6 6-1.  She plays number one seed and another Australian, Ash Barty, later on today (Friday 15 June).

The other two quarter-finals are Donna Vekic (6) v Mona Barthel and Naomi Osaka (3) of Japan v Mihaela Buzărnescu (5) of Romania.

Heather Watson is still in action in the doubles and is through to the semi-finals with partner Mihaela Buzărnescu, where they face Lizette Cabrera and Irina Falconi for a place in the final.

Tennis- off the Court
 Sara Errani

 Sara Errani’s doping ban has been increased from two to ten months.  She tested positive for banned drug letrozole – a cancer drug taken by her mother which somehow got into the family’s food.

The Court of Arbitration for Sport accepted that the medicated had got into the food, but said that Errani was guilty of a “light degree of fault”, and dished out a 10-month ban.

She was initially banned for two months but the Italia anti-doping agency asked for a longer ban.

Errani, unsurprisingly, is unhappy with the decision,

“I am really disgusted by this matter. I don’t think anything similar has ever happened or been managed – in my humble opinion – in such a shameful manner,” she said.

Maria Bueno

Brazilian tennis star, Maria Bueno, has died at the age of 78.

Bueno, Latin America’s most successful female tennis player won 19 major titles during her career in the 1950s and 60s.  This included three Wimbledon singles titles (1959, 1960, 1964) and four US titles.

She also won the Wimbledon women’s doubles title twice, first with althea Gibson in 1958 and then again with Billie Jean King in 1965.

Cycling

The Women’s Tour

Apologies for being so slow but the Women’s Tour of Britain is upon us and this year the prize fund has been doubled – matching that awarded in the men’s race.  For the first time it also has its own broadcast coverage, instead of being tacked on to that of the men’s race.

ITV4 are screening highlights of each of the five stages, as follows:

Stage One: Framlingham to Southwold
Wednesday 13 June, 21:00

Stage Two: Rushden to Daventry
Thursday 14 June, 20:00

Stage Three: Atherstone to Royal Leamington Spa
Friday 15 June, 20:00

Stage Four: Evesham to Worcester
Saturday 16 June, 20:00

Stage Five: Dolgellau to Colwyn Bay
Sunday 17 June, 21:00

Check out the website: http://www.womenstour.co.uk/

Stage One

Jolien D’hoore  (Mitchelton-Scott)won stage one, ending up on Southwold seafront (one of the loveliest places on Earth), finishing ahead of former World Champion Marta Bastianelli (Alé Cipollini) and Coryn Rivera (Team Sunweb).

Dani Rowe (King) was the highest finishing Briton in fifth.

Stage Two

The Green Jersey passed to Coryn Rivera after stage two when she won the stage in a sprint finish with Marianne Vos (Waowdeals Team) in Daventry.    Christine Majerus (Boels Dolmans Cyclingteam) was third.

Rivera now has a 15-second lead over the field.  Dani Rowe (King) lies in second with Vos in third.

Para-cycling

Sarah Storey will make her return the Great Britain Para-cycling team at the Road World Championships in Italy from 2-5 August.

The women’s team: Karen Darke, Hannah Dines, Lora Fachie (piloted by Corrine Hall), Megan Giglia, Crystal Lane-Wright, Mel Nicholls, Liz Saul, Sarah Storey, Katie Toft.

Mountain Biking

After Tahnee Seagrave’s triumph last week at Fort William, Rachel Atherton has won gold at the next Mountain Bike World Cup leg in Leogang, Austria.

Miriam Nicole of France took silver and Australian Tracey Hannah, bronze.  Seagrave had finished third, but was disqualified being adjudged to re-enter the course on the wrong side of a marker.

Football

 Plenty of football news this week:  home nations qualifiers, just what is going on a Liverpool? and the worst kept secret in football is finally confirmed.

Friday 8 June
Russia 1-3 England

It was a good performance from England against a poor Russian side that saw them go back to the top of Group A.

Nikita Parris opened the scoring with a header after 22 minutes.  Jill Scott then got two (27 and 36 minutes) to put the visitors into a three-nil lead.

After the break the Lionesses took their foot off the gas and will be disappointed that they allowed the home side to score, Elena Danilova taking her chance to make the final score 3-1.

Sunday 10 June
Northern Ireland 0-5 Netherlands

The European champions looked a class apart as they demolished Northern Ireland at home.

The Irish managed to keep the score down to just 1-0 by half –time, the goal coming through Lineth Beerensteyn.

But the second-half saw four more through Danielle van de Donk, Shanice van de Sanden, Sherida Spitse and Jackie Groenen and the Netherlands are four points clear of Norway at top of Group C.

Tuesday 12 June
Wales 3-0 Russia

England weren’t on top of the table for long.  Wales put in an excellent performance to beat Russia in Newport on Tuesday and take them one point back ahead of their English rivals.

After a goalless first-half, Wales upped their game and Kayleigh Green bagged a brace (48 and 62 minutes) before Tash Harding sealed it with 22 minutes to go.

Russia had nothing in response.

Poland 2-3 Scotland

Performance of the week, however, must go to Scotland who came from two goals down to beat Poland in Kielce on Tuesday.

The Poles took an early lead through Dzesika Jaszek, which they held until half-time.  On 66 minutes they were two-up when Sophie Howard turned the ball into her own net.

But Scotland fought back.  Kim Little bagged the first from a free-kick and Jane Ross brought it level with nine minutes to go.

Lisa Evans got the winner in the 90th minute to take the Scots to just three points behind Switzerland, who are top with six wins from six and 18 points.

Casey Stoney

It was announced this week that former England captain Casey Stoney will be the manager of the new Manchester United women’s team.

In an interview with the BBC she said,

“This the biggest club in the world.

“The fact we are going to have a women’s team and I’m going to be able to introduce that from scratch, to build a team, build a philosophy, with the biggest club in the world, means that, for me, there is no more exciting opportunity.

“I truly believe Manchester United has the ability to change the face of women’s football forever.”

Let’s face it, expectation will be incredibly high; having attracted such a high-profile manager, it will also attract some equally high-profile players.  If they don’t win the Championship at the first attempt, questions will be bound to be asked.  Stoney is never one to shirk a challenge though, and for us neutrals it promises to be quite something to behold.

Liverpool

What on earth is going on?   This week they’ve lost a manager, gained a manager and dispensed with the services of three more players.

England defender Alex Greenwood, Martha Harris and Amy Turner have all reached the end of their contracts and have been released.

Wales captain Sophie Ingle has left to re-sign for Chelsea.

Not long after, manager Scott Rogers also left the club after three years in charge.  He had been number two to Matt Beard from 2014 until Beard left for the States in 2015.

But that was not the end of the story this week.  Chief executive Peter Moore said,

“The search for a new manager is underway and we hope to make an appointment in a decisive and timely manner.”

An understatement: just four days later, Liverpool revealed their new manager to be Neil Redfearn.

Redfearn had been manager of Doncaster Rovers Belles since December 2017.

 “It is a massive privilege and real honour for me to have been appointed as manager of Liverpool Ladies. It is a team with big potential which should be challenging for trophies on a regular basis.

“Liverpool Football Club is a huge club and I have every confidence that we will be competing at the top end of the Women’s Super League this season. I am over the moon to have been given this opportunity and cannot wait to get started,” he said.

It’s certainly been a turbulent couple of weeks for the Reds and Redfearn will have to have a clear plan of action – surely he has a number of signings in his sights and will need to bolster the squad after all the departures.  He needs to show his own and the club’s commitment to the women’s game as a response to some of the recent questions raised about the owners’ motivation and support for the women’s side.

Yeovil Town

The Lady Glovers have announced Lee Burch as their new boss.  Burch was formerly at Millwall Lionesses and won the League Managers Association’s WSL2 manager of the year this season.

He will have the task of seeing Yeovil through their first season as a full-time professional side in the new Women’s Super League.

Athletics

Dina Asher-Smith backed up her British record run in Oslo last week with victory in the Stockholm Diamond league event.  She won in a time of 10.93, just 0.01 seconds outside her new British record.  Murielle Ahoure of Ivory Coast was second.

At the same meet, Lorraine Ugen won the long jump with 6.85m, while Laura Muir finished second in the 1500m behind Gudaf Tsegay of Ethiopia and Beth Dobbin was second in the 200m.

Netball

Last weekend’s Superleague results:

Friday 8 June
Team Bath 42-43 Loughborough Lightning

Saturday 9 June
Celtic Dragons 42-83 Wasps Netball
Surrey Storm 52-51 Team Northumbria
Benecos Mavericks 47-52 Manchester Thunder

Monday 11 June
Manchester Thunder 68-48 Celtic Dragons
Severn Stars 55-36 UWS Sirens

Leaders Wasps bounced back (and how) this week with a thumping win over Celtic Dragons, while second-placed Lightning played out a thrilling game, winning by a single point over Team Bath.

Thunder are also making a late run and there are now three teams on 39, stretching ahead of the field.  Wasps play their game in hand this weekend so all should become much clearer by the end of this round of games.

This weekend’s fixtures are:

Friday 15 June
Team Bath v Wasps (7.30pm)

Saturday 16 June
Celtic Dragons v UWS Sirens (4pm)
Severn Stars v Team Northumbria (6pm)
Surrey Storm v Manchester Thunder (6pm)
Benecos Mavericks v Loughborough Lightning (6pm)

Monday 18 June
Wasps Netball v Benecos Mavericks (7pm Live on Sky Sports)

Rugby League

Just one result from the Super League this week:

Sunday 10 June
Wigan Warriors 50-0 York City Knights

And finally,

When you read a good book about women’s sport or even a general sports book written by a woman, and it’s a fabulous read, you should just shout about it.  So here I am, SHOUTING.

I have a bit of a love/hate relationship with swimming and it appears from this book that I’m not alone.  I love swimming in the sea, but living in landlocked Leicestershire means I don’t get much opportunity.  I hate swimming in indoor pools – too self-conscious, too slow, too much chlorine.  It’s quite a while since I’ve actually been swimming and this book has encouraged me to try again.  Hence I will not be here next week, because hopefully I will be swimming in the sea!

Anyway, the book I’m talking about is Swell, by Jenny Landreth.  It was shortlisted for the William Hill Sports Book of the Year 2017 (somewhat of a miracle in itself).  And what a great read it is.

It’s a mixture of autobiography (or Waterbiography as Landreth calls it), and a history of women’s swimming in Britain.  I learnt so much.  As in most aspects of women’s history, women had to fight for every minute of allowed swimming time in Britain.  From being able to go in the sea (via ridiculous bathing machines) to being allowed a couple of hours a week in a public baths, each right has had to be negotiated and battled for by bands of determined women and girls who could not stand by and let the inequalities and injustices of women’s swimming go unchallenged.

There is a wealth of detail in this book; how and where women were first allowed to swim, what they were allowed to wear (no change there, then) and with whom they were allowed to swim.  How could they learn to swim when men were the only teachers and they weren’t allowed to be at the pool at the same time?

Landreth talks about the real heroes of women’s swimming – those who pioneered; in the sport itself, in its organisation and in its coaching.  She raises a glass (or two) to those who broke through the boundaries and are still doing it today; those who swim long distance, elite swimmers and the every day woman who still has to fight to do her 10 lengths of the baths of a morning before the rest of the world claims her time.

It’s a marvellous, incredibly funny book that will make you laugh out loud (I guarantee).  I laughed out loud and punched the air in equal measure.

Go out and buy or borrow it folks.  It should definitely be on everyone’s sporting bookshelf.

Swell is published by Bloomsbury with a retail price of £9.99.

As I said, there will be no column next week, as I will hopefully be swimming somewhere in the North Sea next week , emerging blue no doubt and cursing Jenny Landreth soundly for encouraging me to get out there.  Back with you all in a fortnight.  

 

 

Women’s Sports Column 2-8 June 2018

running trackWelcome to this week’s column.  After the marathon of the previous one, I’m hoping this offering can be more in the way of a sprint!  Stories this week come from football, triathlon, rugby union, athletics, cricket, tennis, golf, judo, mountain biking and…. darts!

So let’s crack on.

Athletics

Dina Asher-Smith broke her own British 100m records at the Diamond League Bislett Games in Oslo on 7 June.  She clocked 10.92, beating her previous best by 0.07 seconds.  In the race she finished second behind Murielle Ahoure of Ivory Coast, but beat Commonwealth Games 100m champion Michelle-Lee Ahye of Trinidad and Tobago into third.

Tennis

No doubt as to the disappointment of the week, when the much-anticipated match between Serena Williams and Maria Sharapova at the French Open was scuppered by Williams withdrawing through injury.  Anyone who reads this column regularly will know whose camp I am firmly in, and although Serena was the underdog, I would have loved to have seen her take on and beat Sharapova without breaking sweat.

Needless to say, there has been much comment since Williams withdrew, for and against both players.  I’m not passing judgement.  I wish she had been out there, but an arm injury that would have prevented her serving to the best of her ability was not something she could have played through.

The final of the French Open will be between number one seed Simona Halep and tenth seed Sloane Stephens and the tournament progressed as follows:

Quarter-finals
Sloane Stephens (10) beat Daria Kasatkina (14) 6-3 6-1
Madison Keys (13) beat Yulia Putintseva 7-6 6-4
Garbine Muguruza (3) beat Maria Sharapova (28) 6-2 6-1
Simona Halep (1) beat Angelique Kerber (12) 6-7 6-3 6-2

Semi-finals:
Sloane Stephens (10) beat Madison Keys (13) 6-4 6-4
Simona Halep (1) beat Garbine Muguruza (3) 6-1 6-4

The final is on Saturday 9 June and will be broadcast in the UK on ITV and ESPN and on the radio via BBC 5 Live.

Cricket

The England squad for the one-day series against South Africa has been announced.

Coverage of the first match, which is on Saturday 9 June is on TMS on BBC Radio 5 Live Sports Extra and via the BBC website and begins at 11am.

Heather Knight (capt, Berkshire), Tammy Beaumont (Kent), Katherine Brunt (Yorkshire), Sophie Ecclestone (Lancashire), Georgia Elwiss (Sussex), Jenny Gunn (Warwickshire), Danielle Hazell (Yorkshire), Amy Jones (wicketkeeper, Warwickshire), Laura Marsh (Kent), Anya Shrubsole (Somerset), Nat Sciver (Surrey), Sarah Taylor (wk, Sussex), Lauren Winfield (Yorkshire), Danni Wyatt (Sussex).

England’s fixtures this summer:

England v South Africa

June
9 1st ODI, Worcester (11:00 BST)
12 2nd ODI, Hove (d/n) (13:00 BST)
15 3rd ODI, Canterbury (d/n) (14:00 BST)

Twenty20 tri-series

20 South Africa v New Zealand, Taunton (13:00 BST)
20 England v South Africa, Taunton (17:40 BST)
23 England v South Africa, Taunton (13:00 BST)
23 England v New Zealand, Taunton (17:40 BST)
28 South Africa v New Zealand, Bristol (13:00 BST)
28 England v New Zealand, Bristol (17:40 BST)

July
1 Final, Chelmsford (15:00 BST)

England v New Zealand
7 1st ODI, Headingley (11:00 BST)
10 2nd ODI, Derby (d/n) (13:00 BST)
13 3rd ODI, Leicester (d/n) (14:00 BST)

English Women’s County Championship

Hampshire have won the County Championship for the first time after beating Middlesex, which also condemned them to be relegated to division two.

Hampshire, promoted to division one this season and under new Director of Cricket, Charlotte Edwards, won six of their seven fixtures to secure the title.

Yorkshire finished as runners-up, while Middlesex and Somerset were relegated.   Sussex and Surrey are promoted from division two.

Aboriginal Tour

There are both men’s and women’s Aboriginal XIs touring England at the moment.  On Thursday 7 both sides played a Surrey XI at The Oval and on Friday 8 June they play a Sussex XI at Hove.

Thursday 7 June
Surrey Women 149/6 (20 0vers)
Aboriginal XI 113 all out (19.6 overs)
Surrey women won by 36 runs

Surrey captain Hannah Jones won the toss and elected to bat.  England’s Bryony Smith top scored with 58 with Amy Gordon making 37. Aboriginal captain Ashleigh Gardner had the best bowling figures, taking 2/28 from her four overs.

In response Gardner opened the batting but was out for six.  Hannah Darlington top-scored with 32 and there were good contributions from Emma Manix-Geeves (21) and Sally Moylan (27), but wickets fell too regularly for them to have a chance and the tourists fell short by 36 runs.

Mountain Biking

Great Britain’s Tahnee Seagrave won the Fort William leg of the Downhill World Cup last weekend.  She took the title in a time of 05:10.960, ahead of Myriam Nicole of France in second, 05:19.211 and Britain’s Rachel Atherton in third, 05:20.016.

Seagrave now lies second in the rankings on 1751 points, behind Myriam who has 1950.

Football

England Qualifier

England Head Coach, Phil Neville, will have decisions to make on Friday as there have been a series of withdrawals from his squad for Friday’s qualifier against Russia.

Captain Steph Houghton was the first to withdraw and now faces some time on the sidelines as she undergoes knee surgery.

Earlier this week Izzy Christiansen and Jordan Nobbs also withdrew.  Christiansen has a thigh problem, while Nobbs has a foot injury.

Lucy Staniforth of Sunderland and Lauren Bruton of Reading have been called up as cover and Lucy Bronze had been named captain.

Just to remind you, the Russia game will be on the BBC Red Button and online from 5pm.

Wales Qualifier

Wales 1-0

Wales took a one-point lead in Group A after beating Bosnia-Herzegovina 1-0 in Swansea on 7 June.

Kayleigh Green scored the only goal of the game in the 61st minute after Wales had spurned numerous chances, including a penalty, which was missed by Helen Ward.

Wales play again on Tuesday 12 June in Newport when they face Russia.

Scotland Qualifer

Scotland 2-1 Belarus

Scotland are up to second in Group B, three points behind Switzerland after they came from behind to beat Belarus at the Falkirk stadium on 7 June.

Belarus took the lead through Karina Olkhovik.  Scotland had plenty of chances to equalise and Jane Ross had a goal disallowed before Erin Cuthbert finally drew them level just before the break.

Cuthbert bagged her second on 65 minutes to give the Scots the win.

They play again in Poland on Tuesday 12 June, with leaders Switzerland travelling to Belarus on the same day.

Other football news

There has been another flurry of transfers/releasing of players/new contracts this week.  Here are the highlights:

  • Biggest news of the week, Reading and England goalkeeper Mary Earps has signed for German champions Wolfsburg on a one-year deal. This will be great experience for the 25-year old.
  • Second biggest news must be the appointment of former Liverpool coach Matt Beard as the new Head Coach of West Ham Ladies. Watch out, West Ham obviously mean business.
  • Birmingham City have released Freda Ayisi, Maddy Cusack and Coral Haines.
  • Manchester City have signed Scotland international Caroline Weir from Liverpool.
  • Fran Kirby has signed a new three-year contract with Chelsea.
  • David Haley is to step down as Celtic manager after five years to take charge of the Celtic Women’s Academy

Darts

Great news from the world of darts this week as it was announced that from 2019 the PDC World Championship will include two female players as part of an expanded field.

There will be 96 players taking part, an increase from 72.  There will be two women’s qualifying events for the UK and Rest of the World.  The winners of these events will get to the main draw.

The tournament takes place at the Alexandra Palace and runs from 13 December to 1 January.

Triathlon

Great Britain took silver in Nottingham on Thursday 7 June in the first of the Mixed Relay Series events.

The team, comprising Jonny Brownlee, Non Stanford, Tom Bishop and Vicky Holland finished 29 seconds behind the USA, who completed the course in one hour 21 minutes and 16 seconds.

France finished third in a sprint finish, nine seconds behind Brownlee and one second ahead of Australia’s Ryan Bailie in fourth.

Mixed Relay will make its Olympic debut at Tokyo 2020 and the Nottingham event was the first to earn teams Olympic qualifying points.

The second event will be in Edmonton, Canada, from 27-29 July.

Rugby Union

This weekend sees the final leg of the Women’s World Sevens in Paris.  Australia are currently top of the standings with 74 points, New Zealand lie second with 70 with France back in third on 54.  News and results next week.

It was also announced that next season’s series will include an extra leg, an opening event in Glendale, Colorado.  This will mean the women’s circuit will comprise six rounds; USA, Dubai, Sydney, Kitakyushu, Langford and Paris.

Netball

It was round 15 of the Netball Super League at the weekend and the results were as follows:

Friday 1 June
Team Bath 54-45 Benecos Mavericks

Saturday 2 June
Manchester Thunder 53-42 Wasps Netball
Team Northumbria 58-47 Celtic Dragons
Surrey Storm 51-44 UWS Sirens
Loughborough Lightning 59-44 Severn Stars

With Wasps’ second defeat in a row, they and Lightning are level on points at the top on 36, but Wasps still have a game in hand.  Thunder are third, three points back but also with a game in hand over Loughborough.  The Dragons are bottom on six points with Northumbria above them on nine.

It’s round 15 this weekend – just three rounds to go until the semis and final!

Friday 8 June
Team Bath v Loughborough Lightning (7.30pm)

Saturday 9 June
Celtic Dragons v Wasps Netball (4pm)
Benecos Mavericks v Manchester Thunder (6pm)
Surrey Storm v Team Northumbria (6pm)

Monday 11 June
Severn Stars v UWS Sirens (Live on Sky Sports, 7pm)

Rugby League

There were no Super League games last weekend as it was a Challenge Cup weekend.  There were some big scores for the more established sides with Castleford Tigers knocking out current Challenge Cup holders, Bradford Bulls, in the process.  The quarter-final draw has been made.  Ties take place during the weekend of 30 June-1 July.

Barrow v York City Knights
Castleford Tigers v St Helens
Featherstone Rovers v Wigan Warriors
Leeds Rhinos v The Army

Judo

Britain’s Sarah Adlington took a silver medal at the European Judo Open in Madrid last weekend.

She was beaten by Kristin Bussow of Germany in the final of the +78kg category.

Golf – US Open

Ariya Jutanugarn of Thailand won the US Open on the fourth play-off hole in Alabama last weekend.

She had a seven-shot lead going into the back nine of the final round, but in the end had to settle for a play-off as she finished level with Hyo Joo Kim of Korea on -11.

They were still level after a two-hole play-off before it went to sudden death.  At their third play-off hole they both parred again before Jutanugam won the fourth with a par to win her second major.

Spain’s Carlota Ciganda finished third.  Charley Hull finished in a share of tenth place and was the highest placed Briton.

No spitting or ranting “And Finally” this week (relief all-round there), but I’ll be back next week with more news, scores and views.  

Women’s Sports Column – 2-8 July

CAYFS5MZWelcome to this week’s column. Plenty to get through this week including football, cricket, athletics, tennis, golf, rugby league, netball, transgender rights, sailing and, I’m afraid, another corking “And finally”.

It’s about time that people realised that when it comes to football it’s no use relying on England’s men to come up with the goods (brilliant stuff from Wales, by the way). Last year we cheered, yelled and cried along with the Lionesses as they brought home a bronze medal from the World Cup in USA. Well, this week, Team GB’s deaf women footballers did their thing and won a bronze at the Deaf World Cup in Italy.

It was a tough tournament as when China withdrew at the last minute the format was changed from two groups to just one round-robin first stage.

Each of the six teams played five times in nine days!

The top two played for the gold, while the third and fourth finishers played for bronze.

Team GB had a mixed first stage; they began with at 2-2 draw against Poland, then they beat hosts Italy 5-0, lost 4-0 to USA and beat Turkey 6-0. They needed to beat Russia in the last game to play in the gold medal match. However, Russia scored in the last minute to win the game 1-0 and send GB to the bronze medal match.

They faced Poland again for bronze and this time a draw was never on the cards. They went 1-0 up and held on until five minutes from the end when Ceara Toal from Leicestershire scored a second to secure the medal.

The eventual winners were USA who beat Russia in the final 3-0.

This achievement should not be underestimated. The women had to raise every penny to get to the championships. There was quite a lot of publicity when Stoke goalkeeper Jack Butland contributed 5k to help get the women there, but there were hundreds of other people who gave what they could by chucking into collection buckets at the FAWSL (and other ) games.

 

England’s women cricketers completed a clean sweep over Pakistan on Thursday with a sixth win in a row. They won all of their ODIs comfortably and were equally good in the three T20s. Before the series started I expressed concern at the route new coach Mark Robinson was taking by dispensing with the services of Charlotte Edwards and Lydia Greenway. England were also without Sarah Taylor for the whole series.

In my preview for Women’s Sports UK I suggested that if ever England were there for the taking by Pakistan, this would be the time. So from now on I’m going to cease with the punditry and just present the facts! I’ll be writing a suitably chastened review for WSUK which I would encourage you to read but just to point out the records broken in the series:

    • Highest ODI total: 378-5 (Lauren Winfield 123, Tammy Beaumont 104, Natalie Sciver 80), 2nd Royal London ODI, Wednesday 22nd June, New Road Worcester
    • Highest IT20 total: 187-5 (Tammy Beaumont 84, Lauren Winfield 72), 1st NatWest IT20, Sunday 3rd July, The Brightside Ground, Bristol
    • Highest ODI opening partnership: 235 (Lauren Winfield & Tammy Beaumont) 2nd Royal London ODI, Wednesday 22nd June, New Road Worcester
    • Highest IT20 opening partnership: 147 (Lauren Winfield & Tammy Beaumont) 1st NatWest IT20, Sunday 3rd July, The Brightside Ground, Bristol
    • Heather Knight became the first player in the world (male or female) to take 5 wickets (5-26) and score a half century (50*) in a ODI
    • Tammy Beaumont’s 342 run aggregate in the Royal London ODI series was the highest ever in a three-match ODI series (male or female)

In other exciting cricket news, the ICC has applied for women’s cricket to be included in the 2022 Commonwealth Games in South Africa.   If it happens, it will be yet another showcase for women’s cricket, so fingers crossed that the ICC will be successful in their application.

ICC Chairman, Shashank Manohar, said

“The Board has taken a strategic decision to support the inclusion of women’s cricket in the 2022 Commonwealth Games as it will enhance the profile of the sport and create additional exposure and experiences for female cricketers, as well as opportunities to engage with the Commonwealth Games on important social justice issues and initiatives.”

He went on to say that the Olympic Games will be another target for women’s cricket and the ICC will be meeting with the IOC later on this year.

 

The European Athletics Championships have been happening this week in Amsterdam. Dina Asher-Smith claimed a stunning gold on Thursday in the 200m with a season’s best 22.37 seconds.

Tiffany Porter could not defend her title, but took a creditable bronze in the 100m hurdles.

And we have to say all hail Jo Pavey (again). She has just run the Olympic qualifying time for the 10,000m at the age of 42. She finished in fifth in Amsterdam with a season’s best 31 minutes 34 seconds. She will now have to see if she is selected, but it will be a crying shame if she isn’t.

The only sad news to report is that after missing out on the 800m final and picking up an injury, Jenny Meadows has decided to retire.

 

Not much to cheer about for British women’s tennis at Wimbledon over the last fortnight (so far).

As I suggested in my last column, Angelique Kerber was far too strong for Laura Robson in the first round and she lost 2-6 2-6. It may be some consolation to Robson that Kerber has now reached the final and will play Serena Williams on Saturday 9 July.

More disappointingly, British number two Heather Watson also went out in the first round to Annika Beck 3-6 6-0 12-10, having squandered three match points.

Katie Swan lost in the first round to Timea Babos, 6-2 6-3. She was also playing in the Girls’ singles, but had to retire with a leg injury in the first round.

Naomi Broady was the fourth Briton to go out in the first round, losing 6-2 6-3 to 17th seed, Elina Svitolina.

British number one Johanna Konta went out in the second round, losing to Eugenie Bouchard of Canada, 6-3 1-6 6-1.

Tara Moore had an excellent win over Alison Van Uytvanck of Belgium in the first round, 6-3 6-2, but succumbed to 13th seed Svetlana Kuznetsova in the second, 1-6 6-2 3-6.

Most exciting this Wimbledon week is that the championships is, for the first time, including wheelchair singles.

Wheelchair ace (no pun intended) Jordanne Whiley drew fellow Briton and doubles partner Lucy Shuker in the quarter final. She won the match 6-1 6-1 and will now face Aniek van Koot in the semi-final.

 

The football transfer window closed this week with Notts County Ladies making the most signings. There are mutterings and mumblings about just what is going on at Birmingham City Ladies, which reached a peak a couple of weeks ago when England internationals Jade Moore and Jo Potter revealed they had bought themselves out of their contracts. In very similar statements they expressed a kind of nebulous dissatisfaction with the club – this is Jo Potter’s:

ClGKFzvWEAAd5Zu

Notts County also signed goalkeeper Lizzie Durack from Harvard University.

England international Natasha Dowie and midfielder Becky Easton have left Doncaster Belles. Easton has decided to retire to concentrate on her studies, while Dowie has not signed elsewhere yet as she is concentrating on recovering from injury.

 

In excellent news for women’s rugby league this week, Wakefield Trinity Wildcats have become the first Super League side to launch a women’s team.

Wakefield Trinity Ladies will be part of the Women’s Premier League from 2017. Championship sides Featherstone Rovers and Bradford Bulls already have teams, but Wakefield will be the first Super League side.  It is a sign of the growth of women’s rugby league, but it is a shame that the ladies will not be playing at Wakefield’s Belle Vue ground, but will be based at local amateur club Sharlston Rovers.

 

Royal Troon Golf club has left the stone-age and voted “overwhelmingly” to allow women to join as members. In a statement they said that a recent consultation of current membership showed that over three-quarters were in favour of the move. While it is obviously a sound result, it’s probably only at “Two cheers” as E.M. Forster would have it, as it shouldn’t even be an issue in the 21st century.

 

The new line-up for the 2017 Vitality Netball Superleague has been announced, not without controversy. There will be three new teams; Severn Stars, Scottish Sirens and Wasps Netball. There will, however, be no place for Yorkshire Jets. Apparently the new line-up was published in error on England Netball’s website.

Jets finished bottom of the league last season, without a win to their name, and it is unclear what their future will be. Their captain, Stacey Francis, spoke to Sky Sports:

“It’s really sad and it’s really hard to get your head around.

“I’m a very loyal person and the core of Superleague franchises have been around for a long time now. I envisaged playing for the franchise for as long as I possibly could and absolutely building on last season.

“The performances and the results were poor but at no point did anyone say we were a lost cause in terms of performance, and the debrief at the end of season was incredibly productive and lots of conversations were already happening about how we would move forward next season.”

Let’s hope that the Jets keep their team together and their fanbase expanding. If they do this I can’t see how the Superleague could block their return in 2018.

 

As I predicted some time ago (and it gives me no pleasure to say this), the next big story in athletics will surround transgender athletes. As we near the Rio Olympics there are going to be more scare stories and general hysteria (word deliberately used) about the issue. I’m not saying that it’s not a serious issue, but the amount of ignorance and misinformation printed or published in the next few weeks will far outweigh any scientifically-based, thoroughly researched and balanced pieces.

Most recently I have seen:

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-3671937/Transgender-British-athletes-born-men-set-make-Olympic-history-competing-games-women.html

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/middleeast/iran/11903290/Eight-of-Irans-womens-football-team-are-men.html

I suggest you all read up on it – the facts not the fiction and make your own decisions. This is such a grey area that needs some sensible discussion. One thing we don’t need is the demonising of transgender athletes, whose lives and decisions, you can guarantee, will be under the microscope to the nth degree before they are allowed to compete at any event.

 

Sailing update from Abby Ehler:

In sailing this week, Team Magenta 32 competing in the World Match Race Tour were eliminated early in the qualifying series, much to their disappointment.  The team has continually been making positive ground in the 2016 circuit, racing against some of the worlds best match racers, and as the Tour’s first all-female team they have have certainly made their mark on the course.  Results aside there are many positives to take away from their involvement in this particular circuit including the inspiration provided to others, one supporter wrote in “You have together opened up another door for more women sailors to compete in what is a male dominated arena and you continue to inspire in so many more ways that you can imagine to so many.”  The team hope to secure funding to be able to continue their course in the high performance sailing world.

The ‘La Solitaire Bombard Le Figaro’ Race concluded on Thursday 7th July in La Rochelle following 1525 miles of coastal single handed racing split into 4 stages.  What makes this race so unique is that is requires the sailors to be excellent short course racers, skilled navigators and weather routers and able to pace themselves to manage the sleep deprivation and hard living conditions, whilst maintaining the boat at sea and above all being competitive and determined to get through all the challenges that this Race entails! There were a total of 39 competitors, 5 of which were women: Justine Mettraux (SUI), Cecile Laguette (FRA), Sophie Faguet (FRA), Claire Pruvot (FRA) and Mary Rook (GBR).  Justine Mettraux has finished the event 3rd in the Rookie division, a great achievement in her first attempt at this hardcore race!

 

And finally, curse of the creepy middle-aged man strikes again! Most of you will now have heard of British men’s player and number 772 in the world, Marcus Willis. He did wondrous things to reach round two of Wimbledon. And behind every great man, so they say, is a great woman – enter girlfriend Jenny Bate. Bate, a dental surgeon by profession, was apparently largely responsible for Willis not giving up on his tennis career when it seemed it was not going anywhere.

Unsurprisingly the BBC and newspapers committed many column inches and footage to the attractive woman. Not too worried about that, although we could have done without a shot of her after every point.

But BBC commentator Andrew Castle just couldn’t help himself,

“It’s a pity my dentist doesn’t look like that,” he snickered like a lecherous schoolboy.

And it’s a pity you don’t realise you’re old enough to be her father, Andrew…..